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BMW R1100GS Adventure Motorbike Review

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BMW R1100GS motorcycle review - Riding
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MCN overall verdict rating is 4

On the face of it the BMW R1100GS isn’t a particularly convincing motorcycle to drop your cash on. It’s underpowered, expensive, looks ungainly and the gearbox is, frankly, poor. However, if you had to bet the house and kids on a motorcycle to get to Timbuktoo and back again (and show you a good time en route) the R1100GS would be it.

Engine

MCN rating rating is 3
Owners' rating rating is 4

The BMW R1100GS's oil/air-cooled 1085cc Boxer twin struggles to make a genuine 70bhp at the back wheel, but that’s a figure almost equalled by the torque output. This, then, is a motorcycle for short-shifting not revving – a bike for punting you out of corners, not warp factor mph. With just five ratios the R1100GS is a bit buzzy in top, but other than a fantastical appetite for oil it's damn near unburstable.

 

Ride and Handling

MCN rating rating is 4
Owners' rating rating is 4

BMW persevere with their queer paralever/telelever suspension arrangement, which basically means a wishbone and spring arrangement up front, and a centrally-slung shock and single-sided swingarm/shaft drive arrangement. Whatever, it works well, almost eliminating fork dive on braking – and what awesome brakes – sublime. ABS is worth having as it adds resale value.

Equipment

MCN rating rating is 4
Owners' rating rating is 3.5

BMW R1100GS owners are kit fetishists, so go for one that’s got ABS, hard luggage, heated grips, fender extenders and extra road lights. You’ll only be sorry if you don’t. Compare and buy parts for the BMW R1100GS in the MCN Shop.

 

BMW R1100GS (1994-1999)

Detail Value
Engine size 1085 cc
Power 80 bhp
Top speed 122 mph
Insurance group 13 of 17
  MCN ratings Owners' ratings
Overall rating is 4 rating is 4
Engine rating is 3 rating is 4
Ride & Handling rating is 4 rating is 4
Equipment rating is 4 rating is 3.5
Quality & Reliability rating is 3 rating is 4
Value rating is 4 rating is 4

Quality and Reliability

MCN rating rating is 3
Owners' rating rating is 4

Essentially the BMW R1100GS is as good as gold. However, peer closely and the finish is average at best – the forks peel, as does the paint on the the cylinder heads. The Preload adjuster on the rear shock seizes, the gearbox is notchy and selection is indifferent even when new.

 

Value

MCN rating rating is 4
Owners' rating rating is 4

Buy your BMW R1100GS, rack up 20,000 miles and sell it for a loss of just a few hundred quid. That’s the power of the GS brand – it conveys unburstability, endurance and safe-as-houses investment potential. Find a BMW R1100GS for sale.

Insurance

Insurance group: 13 of 17

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Model History

1980: BMW R80GS introduced – 50bhp, 167kg, air-cooled, Boxer twin. The absolute daddy of the giant trailie genre.
1987: BMW R100GS released – now making 60bhp, weight is up to 187kg thanks to stronger frame, new forks and bigger, better brakes. Discontinued 1993.
1994: BMW R1100GS launched, discontinued 1999 (replaced first by R1150GS and then the R1200GS).

Other Versions

BMW R1100GS ABS: Otherwise identical barring Advanced Braking System.

Specifications

Top speed 122 mph
1/4-mile acceleration 12.7 secs
Max power 80 bhp
Max torque 72 ft-lb
Weight 209 kg
Seat height 840 mm
Fuel capacity 25 litres
Average fuel consumption 45 mpg
Tank range 250 miles
Annual road tax
Insurance group 13 of 17
Engine size 1085 cc
Engine specification 8v Boxer twin, 5 gears
Frame Steel spine
Front suspension adjustment Preload
Rear suspension adjustment Preload
Front brakes Twin 305mm discs
Rear brake 200mm disc
Front tyre size 110/80 x 17
Rear tyre size 150/70 x 17

Owners' Overall Rating rating is 4(3 reviews)

  • My GS1100

    stevecase

    Average rating rating is 3.5

    Show Details

    Overall
    Ride and Handling
    Equipment
    Quality and Reliabilty
    Value
    Engine

    I love the sit up riding position but the injection makes what should be a good town bike not so good, the gearbox is w**k and its too heavy but the suspension flattens v.bumpy B-roads

    14 July 2008

  • this bike is a fantastic all rounder and improved no end by adding an after market exhaust

    tishtosh

    Average rating rating is 4

    Show Details

    Overall
    Ride and Handling
    Equipment
    Quality and Reliabilty
    Value
    Engine

    picked the bike up a year and a half ago with 9000 miles on the clock and added a remus exhaust which reduces the weight and makes it sound better than any bike on the road in my opinion.tried a taller screen as the standard creates a bit of buffeting around the head but didnt like the loud wind noise so now its naked with no screen and i much prefer it up to about 90mph. handles better than any other sports bike i've owned and gets 200 miles to a tank. holds its value well and never misses a beat.

    Strengths

    build quality,sound,comfort,handling.

    Weaknesses

    wheels and spokes corrode if not cared for.high bmw servicing costs.

    07 March 2006

  • A SuperMoto with Hard Luggage!

    markk75

    Average rating rating is 4

    Show Details

    Overall
    Ride and Handling
    Equipment
    Quality and Reliabilty
    Value
    Engine

    When I was a despatch rider, I owned an old BMW R100/7. The handling and brakes were poor but I loved the 1,000cc Boxer engine. That was my 1st reason for buying the R1100GS - I love Boxers; just something about the noise they make, the torque they produce and maybe also the fact that no other bike manufacturer uses that horizontally-opposed twin cylinder layout. Reason No 2 was the look of the bike. Love it or hate it, no other manufacturer has produced a bike so individually ugly-pretty since the first models were introduced in the mid-90's. Reason No 3? It HANDLES. Despite the 19-inch front wheel and limited choice in tyres, you can sling the thing around like a super-moto. BMWs demand a smooth riding style, but once you adapt to Ze German Vay, you WILL give anything else on 2 wheels a run for its money on A and B roads. The GS isn't a hard-core off-roader and it's no luxo-tourer either, but it was the 1st Adventure Sport bike, and it's still the class leader.

    Strengths

    Front suspension, ABS brakes, engine, versatility

    Weaknesses

    Poor finish, BMW dealer service costs

    31 January 2006

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essarremm

essarremmsays

Wheels on images

The images used in this article are cast wheels (maybe that's why 17" front and back are quoted).  Original fitment were spoked wheels, Front = 19", Rear = 17".  Cast wheels are available as a retro-fit option but need modifications to speedo drive and Front mudguard.

Superb machines - I've had my 'R' Reg '98 one for 6 years now, bought it with 15k Miles on, it now has 106k miles and still going strong :-)  Awesome for tomfoolery around the lanes, swift social cruising, two-up touring and daily commute.  I love it.

23 March 2011 09:59

essarremm

essarremmsays

Front Tyre Size - ERROR

This article quotes a 17" Front tyre - it is actually 19" yes NINETEEN incehes

23 March 2011 09:51

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